Indigenous Australian Senator Lidia Thorpe on Monday referred to Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as a coloniser and swore allegiance reluctantly while taking the oath of office as the recently elected lawmaker.
The 96-year-old Queen is Australia’s head of state and Thorpe resentfully swore allegiance to the queen by raising her right fist in a Black Power salute as a mark of protest.
Greens Senator Thorpe said, “I sovereign, Lidia Thorpe, do solemnly and sincerely swear that I will be faithful and I bear true allegiance to the colonizing Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.”
She was then reprimanded by the chamber’s president, Sue Lines.
“Senator Thorpe, Senator Thorpe, you are required to recite the oath as printed on the card,” said Sue Lines.
Greens senator Lidia Thorpe then had to redo her oath of allegiance in the Senate after prefixing the Queen as a “coloniser”.
After reciting the pledge as required, Thorpe posted a tweet saying, “Sovereignty never ceded.”
Australia was a British colony for over 100 years. During the period, thousands of native Australians were killed and communities were displaced wholesale. The country gained de facto independence in 1901, but has never become a fully fledged republic.
Several polls show most Australians are in favor of being a republic, but there is little agreement on how a head of state should be chosen. There was a row over whether the queen’s replacement would be chosen by members of parliament or the public.
The issue was again brought to light at the last election, when well-known republican Anthony Albanese was elected prime minister. He quickly appointed the country’s first “minister of the republic.”
“I do support a republic,” Albanese told CNN on Sunday. However, he added that there is already a promised referendum on giving native Australians an institutional role in policymaking and another referendum would have to wait.
“Our priority this term is the recognition of First Nations people in our Constitution,” Albanese said.